Can Daniel Ricciardo claw his way back into the championship fight?
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was the man of the moment today, as he took the chequered flag and became the winner of the FIA Formula One 2014 Belgian Grand Prix. The Australian driver’s sensational victory at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit makes it his third of the season and 50th for the team.
Clash of the titans
Mercedes’ driver and pole sitter, Nico Rosberg failed to maintain first place as the race got underway and he suddenly had a coming together with his team mate, Lewis Hamilton on lap two. Hamilton suffered a tyre puncture on his car and was forced to pit for a tyre change soon after the incident.
Rosberg’s car had front wing and nose cone damage, which led him to make an unexpected pit stop as well. Both drivers continued in the race following the incident and pit stops, but Hamilton’s appearance in the action on the track came to an end on lap 39. The Englishman was told via the team radio to retire the car and he returned to the pits which spelt the end of his race.
The podium finishers
Rosberg was the sole driver left flying the flag for the team when Hamilton retired. The German driver finished behind Ricciardo to secure second place for himself. Rosberg has now extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship by 29 points to Hamilton who trails him in second place. Ricciardo is now 64 markers back of the lead.
Williams’ driver, Valtteri Bottas managed to maintain his good run of results into another race weekend. Bottas picked up his fourth podium finish in five races today, as he crossed the line in third place.
The fierce battle behind them
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen seemed to quietly climb his way through the field as the race progressed. The Finnish driver missed out on a podium place to his fellow countryman Bottas and had to settle for fourth place as a result, which is still his best showing this year.
Ricciardo also pipped his team mate, Sebastian Vettel in terms of achieving a higher race result and more Championship points to add to his campaign. Vettel came home fifth after an outstanding late-race duel between himself, Alonso, and the McLaren teammates.
The curious case of Fernando Alonso
Magnussen was sixth, Button seventh, and Alonso fell to eighth after suffering front wing damage during the fight. It wasn an eventful day for the Spaniard who found himself under investigation by the stewards before the lights went out to mark the start of the race.
He was then issued with a five second stop and go penalty for the purpose of team personnel on the grid at the 15 second signal. Alonso was under investigation for a second time on lap 44 of the race, together with Magnussen for an incident between the pair at Turn five. It was then reported that the stewards would look into the incident after the race. It has not yet been announced whether any further action will be taken with the two drivers.
Force India’s Sergio Perez and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat were the final two drivers who managed to grab a point scoring position as the 44 lap marathon came to a close. Perez and Kvyat crossed the finish line in ninth and 10th place respectively.
More drama and race retirements
Rosberg and Hamilton’s incident was not the only contact on the track on lap one. Marussia’s Jules Bianchi suffered right rear tyre damage to his car, following a coming together with Lotus Renault’s Pastor Maldonado, who had damage to the front wing on his car, as a result of their close encounter at the La Source corner.
Maldonado did not last too long in the race following the incident and he retired on lap four. Bianchi followed suit towards the end of the proceedings on lap 42, when he returned to the pits and took no further part in the action.
Maldonado’s team mate, Romain Grosjean joined the Venezuelan driver on lap 35 to make it a double retirement for the team in the race. The Frenchman returned to the pits and got out of his car in the garage which spelt the end of his race.
The final retiree from the race was Caterham’s Andre Lotterer, who bowed out of the proceedings on lap four due to a reported engine failure. The German driver was competing in place of Kamui Kobayashi just for a one race deal this weekend. Lotterer is known for taking part in the Le Mans 24 hours and World Endurance Championship, as well as previously being a test driver for the Jaguar Formula One team.
The next Grand Prix
The Formula One fraternity has now returned to business as usual on the track following the summer break. Rosberg may still have the upper hand on qualifying day, but Ricciardo came from behind to become the winner when it mattered most on race day for the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.
The drivers and teams now have two weeks until they face their next test at Monza when the Italian Grand Prix takes place. Rosberg still remains in control at the top of the Drivers’ Championship, but it remains to be seen how the action will unfold on the track next time out, and if the results will impact upon the current line up in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ standings.